Apple Tart (with raisins)

79 Ain dorten von epfflen
Schelt die epffel saúber vnnd thiet die bútzen heraús, hackts klain vnd rests jm schmaltz, thiet weinberlach, zúcker vnnd rerlach daran vnnd lasts bachen.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin’

79 An apple tart
Peel the apples cleanly and take out the cores, chop them small and fry them in fat, put raisins, sugar and cinnamon therein and let it bake.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

The translation is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

This is one of a number of recipes in Sabina Welserin’s cookbook for an apple tart; presumably they were a staple fruit of the area. This particular recipe is remarkably similar to some modern apple pie or tart recipes. Do a Google search for “Apple Pie raisin” and you’ll find recipes that differ from Sabina’s only in the detail. And there is a reason why this recipe has been around for at least 500 years, because it is delicious. This would be a good recipe to serve to people who are unfamiliar with medieval food, due to its comforting familiarity.

Although Sabina doesn’t specify including a lid to the tart (making it a pie) there are other tart recipes, such as 186 (a herb tart) and 188 (a prune tart) where the maker is instructed to make a cover for the tart. We did make the tart into a pie, as this are more familiar to our eaters (and I happened to have some thawed puff pastry available).

Ingredients

1 quantity shortcrust pastry 100g sugar
250g cooking apples 50g raisins
50g butter 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Roll out the pastry to approx. 4mm thickness and line a greased pie plate with it.
  2. Peel, core and grate the apples.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan, then add the grated apple. Fry the apple until it is warmed through.
  4. Add the sugar, raisins and cinnamon to the apple, and stir through.
  5. Pour the apple mixture into the tart shell, and smooth off.
  6. If you want to make a pie, roll out a pastry lid and place on top of the pie. Trim the edges and press the lid into the tart rim. Cut a small incision into the lid of the pie.
  7. Bake the tart or pie in a 180°C oven for around 30 minutes for a tart, or 45 minutes for a pie, until the pastry is golden.
  8. Serve hot or cold.
  9. Apple and raisin pie

    Advertisements

Beef in Pepper Sauce

4 Wilbrett jm pfeffer einzúmachenn
Ain frisch wilbret seúd jn zwaý tail wasser vnnd jn wein/ vnnd wan es gesotten jst, so schneids zú stúcken vnnd legs jn ain pfeffer, lasß nún ain weil darin sieden, machs als so, nim rúckin brott, schneit die herten rinden darúon vnnd schneit das brot zú stúcken aines fingers tick/ vnnd so brait, als der laib an jm selber jst, bren das ob dem feúr, das es anfacht ann baiden orten schwartz wirt, thú das von stúnd an jn ain kalt wasser, lasß nit lang darin ligen, thú es darnach jn ain kessel/ gúsß die brie daran, darin das willbret gesotten jst, seichs dúrch ain túch, hack zwiffel vnnd speck gar klain, lasß vnnderainander schwaisen, thú nit zú wenig jnn den pfeffer,
gewirtz jn woll, lasß jn einsieden, thú ain essich daran, so hast ain gúten pfeffer.
Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin’

4 Wild game marinated in peppersauce
Boil fresh game in two parts water and one part wine, and when it is done, then cut it into pieces and lay it in a peppersauce. Let it simmer a while therein. Make [the sauce] so: Take rye bread, cut off the hard crust and cut the bread into pieces, as thick as a finger and as long as the loaf of bread is. Brown it over the fire, until it begins to blacken on both sides. Put it right away into cold water. Do not allow it to remain long therein. After that put it into a kettle, pour into it the broth in which the game was boiled, strain it through a cloth, finely chop onions and bacon, let it cook together, do not put too little in the peppersauce, season it well, let it simmer and put vinegar into it, then you have a good peppersauce.

The text of the original recipe can be found here.

The translation is by Valoise Armstrong, and can be found here.

Pepper sauce was a popular accompaniment to meats, especially when it was only available in smaller portions (Bach, 2016, 137). However, while many recipe collections specify to serve meat in a pepper sauce, there is rarely a recipe for the sauce. For an example, check recipe 7 from the Cookbook of the Archive of the Teutonic Order, available online here. It was probably one of those preparations everyone knew how to make. Even Sabina Welserin’s recipe doesn’t actually specify pepper.

Ingredients

500g beef (see notes) 4 slices toasted rye bread 30mL vinegar
1L water 1 onion 2 tsp ground black pepper
500mL red wine 4 rashers bacon salt to taste

Method

  1. Cut the beef into bitesize chunks, and remove any excess fat.
  2. Put the beef, water and red wine into a pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for several hours until the beef is tender.
  3. When the time comes to make the sauce, remove the crusts from the slices of toast and cut it into thin fingers.
  4. Finely dice the onion and chop the bacon into strips.
  5. Dip the fingers of toast into cold water, then add to a pan with the onion, bacon and pepper.
  6. Strain the extra cooking liquid from the beef, until there is just enough liquid left in the beef to keep it moist. Add the strained stock to the sauce pot.
  7. Stir the sauce well to combine. The toast will break down into mush. Bring the sauce to the boil, and cook for around ten minutes.
  8. Strain the sauce, then pour it over the beef and add the vinegar. Cook the beef in the sauce until the sauce has reduced to the desired consistency, then add salt to taste.

Notes

  • This dish works well with cuts that have a lot of connective tissue, such as chuck, shin or cheek; the longer you cook them the better they get. You can use other cuts, but they will not require as much cooking.
  • It may seem odd to dip the toast fingers into water before making the sauce with them. However, if you add the dry toast to the sauce, it will immediately soak up all the flavour of the pepper. If it’s wet, it will crumble and thicken the sauce, without removing any of the flavour.

Beef in pepper sauce

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.

Cherry Sauce for Roasted Meats

Zum ein salsenn von weichselnn zu machen.
Item wiltu machen ein gutte salsenn von weichselnn, so thue die weichsell in einen hafen vnd secz die auff ein glut vnd laß sie siedenn vnd laß dann wider erkaltenn vnd streich sie durch ein tuch vnd thue sie dann wider in den hafenn vnd secz sie auff ein glut vnd laß sie wol sieden vnd rurr sie, piß sie dick wirt, vnd thue dann honig dar an vnd geribens prot vnd negellein vnd gut gestu:ep vnd thue sie in ein feßlein. Sie pleibt dir gut drew oder vier iar.
Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard, mid C15

To make a sauce of tart cherries.
If you wish to make a good sauce of tart cherries, put the cherries into a pot and place it on the embers and let them boil. Then cool down again and pass them through a cloth, put it back into the pot, place it on the embers and let it boil well until it thickens. Then add honey and grated bread and cloves and good spice powder and put it into a small cask. It will stay good three or four years.

The text and translation of the recipe can be found here. The translation was done by Master Giano Balestriere (Volker Bach).

Sauces were an essential part of medieval and early modern cooking. As well as enhancing flavour, they were an essential part of healthy cooking. The practice of medicine was dominated by the theory of the four humours – fire, earth, water and air. Every food was dominated by one of these humours, some to a level that was considered dangerous. Using the right sauce with a particular dish could reign in this danger and make the food more healthful (Scully, 1995, 13). However, too much of a particular sauce could be harmful in itself! (Klemettilä, 2012, 87).

Sauces were typical accompaniments for boiled or roasted meat. Cherry sauce was a popular condiment in early modern Germany; most recipe collections contain at least one recipe (Bach, 2016, 151). Sabina Welserin’s cook book doesn’t contain a general recipe, but specifies to serve boar’s head with sour cherry sauce (recipe 5) and roast venison with a sauce that contains cherry syrup (recipe 7). This cherry sauce is quite robust, and I feel is best with strongly flavoured meats. The recipe below makes enough to be a generous accompaniment for 1kg of roast lamb.

Ingredients

100g morello cherries, drained (see notes) ¼ tsp ground cloves
50mL honey ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tbs bread crumbs ¼ tsp nutmeg

Method

  1. Drain the cherries and reserve the liquid.
  2. Put the cherries into a pan with a small amount of water, and over a low heat, cook the cherries until they have softened. Top up the cooking water as required. You could also use the liquid you drained from the cherries.
  3. When the cherries have softened, push them through a coarse strainer, or use a food processor or blender to process to a puree.
  4. Return the cherry puree to the heat, and add the honey and spices.
  5. When the mixture is boiling again, add the breadcrumbs, and stir until it thickens.
  6. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then pour into a storage container or serving dish.
  7. The sauce can be made ahead of time and reheated. It works well served with strong flavoured meats.

Notes

  • Morello cherries have a much higher acid content than regular cherries, and thus have a much more sour taste. In fact, they are so sour they are virtually impossible to eat fresh, so they are usually preserved in syrup. If you want to use fresh Morello cherries, you will probably have to grow them yourself.
  • As with many period recipes, the spice mix is left to the cook. Cinnamon and nutmeg is a favourite combination of mine. Other spices that could work are galingale, ginger or pepper.
  • It is far better to make your own breadcrumbs rather than use bought ones – the texture of freshly made crumbs is superior. You can either use a fine grater or a food processor to produce breadcrumbs.

Lamb with cherry sauce

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.
Klemettilä, Hannele (2012). The Medieval Kitchen.
Scully, Terence, 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages

Stewed Mushrooms

Nimm duerre Schwammen / wasch sie sauber auß etlichen Wassern / setz sie zu mit Erbeßbrueh unnd klein geschweißten Zwibeln / mach es ab mit Essig / Pfeffer / mit Saffran und Saltz / laß miteinander ein stundt oder zwo sieden/ so wirt es gut und wolgeschmack. Marx Rumpoldt, Ein new Kuchbuch CLXIIIr (1581)

Take dried mushrooms, wash then several times until they are clean and place them on the fire with pease broth and small fried onions. Season it with vinegar, pepper, saffron and salt and boil it together an hour or two. Thus it will be good and tasty.

The text and translation of the recipe can be found in Volker Bach’s excellent collection of medieval period recipes that can be cooked in a camp setting, Plain Fare, which is available for download here.

Mushrooms had a somewhat dubious reputation in medieval times. Some medical writers regarded them as dangerous and advised never to eat them (Scully, 1995, 76), and the dangers from poisoning were quite well known (Bach, 2016, 43). However, there are recipes for mushrooms in many medieval manuscripts, and they were readily available for sale throughout Europe (Scully, 1995, 13), though the varieties sold would have depended on what was available. A German selection would probably include chantrelles and morels, which are named in some recipe collections (Bach, 2016, 43).

If you check out Plain Fare on the link above, you will see Bach has interpreted this recipe as a soup (and he might well be right in that, given he is an expert on medieval German food, and a native German speaker, and I’m definitely not either). However, because this recipe uses dried mushrooms which are cooked for around “an hour or two,” I chose to interpret this as a mushroom stew. This dish was so delicious two confirmed carnivores went for second helpings over second helpings of perfectly cooked roast lamb, and might even choose it over other meat dishes. We’d love to try it as a pie filling.

Ingredients

70g mixed dried mushrooms 50mL vinegar
1 onion 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
500mL vegetable stock pinch saffron

Method

  1. Finely dice the onion and fry in olive oil, or some other fat such as butter or lard.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan, and stir well to combine.
  3. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cook for at least an hour; two or more is preferable. Stir occasionally, and top up the cooking liquid if needed.
  5. Test to see if you need salt before serving; you probably won’t need it.

Notes

  • To make this up we used a mix of roughly equal parts of button mushrooms, Swiss brown mushrooms, porcini and chantrelles. The mushrooms you use will probably depend on what you can find available for sale, but you should definitely use dried mushrooms as they turbocharge the final flavour. If you have access to a dehydrator it will certainly increase the range of mushrooms you can use. Ideally, if you know what local mushrooms are edible, forage and dry your own mushrooms, as would have been done in period.

Mushrooms

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Bach, Volker (2016). The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany.
Scully, Terence, 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages

Lossyns (Cheese Lasagne)


LOSYNS.
Take gode broth and do in an erthen pot, take flour of payndemayn and make þerof past with water, and make þerof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it harde and seeþ it in broth. Take Chese ruayn grated and lay it in disshes with powdour douce, and lay þeron loseyns isode as hoole as þou myȝt, and above powdour and chese; and so twyse or thryse, & serue it forth.
The Forme of Cury 89.

Losyns.
Take good broth and put it in an earthen pot, take quality white flour and make thereof paste with water, and make thereof thin foils as paper with a roller, dry it hard and seethe it in broth. Take semi-hard cheese grated and lay it in dishes with sweet powder, and lay thereon noodles sodden (boiled) and as whole as thou must, and above powder and cheese; and so twice or thrice, and serve it forth.

The text of the original recipe comes from Curye on Inglysch, edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.

This is fast becoming a personal preference over the more familiar macaroni and cheese! A dish like this would most likely have been served at the end of a feast, as it was believed that cheese closed off the stomach and forced the food in the stomach to digest faster (Scully, 1995, 134-135). This was particularly true of fresh, semi hard cheeses.

The name “Losyns” probably derives from Lozenge (Renfrow, 1997, 266). This was a traditional shape for medicines, which further suggests this was as much a medicinal dish as a culinary delight.

Ingredients

3 lasagne noodles 1 tsp ground cinnamon
2L beef or vegetable stock 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
250g-500g grated cheese Optional: 1 tsp sugar

Method

  1. In a wide pan, bring the stock to a boil and cook the lasagne noodles according to the instructions. You will probably find two spatulas useful to get the lasagne noodles out of the stock. Keep the stock boiling.
  2. Lay the lasagne noodles on a damp cloth, and cover with another damp cloth, while you are assembling the lossyns.
  3. Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar (if using) and set aside.
  4. Put a good layer of cheese in a bowl big enough to accommodate the noodles without cutting them, and sprinkle on some of your spice mix.
  5. Lay a lasagne noodle on top of the cheese and spices, and put more cheese and spices on top.
  6. Repeat with the rest of your lasagne noodles, ensuring you finish with cheese and spices.
  7. Gently pour some of the stock over the top of the lossyns, to melt the cheese. Leave to cool slightly.
  8. Cut the lossyns diagonally, so you end up with diamond shapes. Carefully ease the individual pieces onto a serving platter. You can serve them hot or cold.

Notes

  • “Flour of paynedemayn” is the best quality white flour (Butler and Hieatt, 1985, 204). If you are going to make your own pasta, use quality flour recommended for pasta, as the cheap stuff won’t give good results.
  • “Chese ruayn” is autumn cheese, made from the milk produced after cattle had fed on autumn growth. It is thought to have been a semi-firm cheese (Butler and Hieatt, 1985, 211). A Cheshire style cheese would be ideal; it is thought this style of cheese making came about in the late medieval period, and Cheshire was one of the first regions in England to produce cheese on a commercial quantity (Kindstedt, 2012, 165-172).
  • “Powdour douce” is a sweet spice mix, as opposed to a “powder fort” (strong powder). It is likely each cook had their own preferred blend, though cinnamon and sugar are thought to have been common ingredients (Butler and Hieatt, 1985, 208). My preferred blend is 2 parts cinnamon to one part nutmeg, sometimes with 2 parts sugar added.
  • The suggestion to pour boiling stock over the lossyns comes from Pleyn Delit. However, that recipe specifies just a half-cup of cheese… which hardly seems worth it! (Hieatt et al, 1996, 12).

Lossyns

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
 
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon (1985). Curye on Inglysch.
Hieatt, Constance, Hosington, Brenda and Butler, Sharon (1996). Pleyn Delit.
Kindstedt, Paul (2012). Cheese and Culture.
Renfrow, Cindy (1997). Take a Thousand Eggs or More, vol. 1.

Stewed Stekes of Venson or Motoun (Venison Braised in Beer)

Stewed Stekes of Venson or Motoun
Cut venson or moton smale lytell thynne leshys & put them in a fryyng panne with ale by wese & boyle them welle tylle they be ny tendour. Then take them & fry them in butter tylle they be tendur; than make a syryp for them. Take rede wyne, vynegyr ynouh, and butter & put them in a put them in a pote to stew tylle they be halfe consumed; and then fors them up with synamom, ginger, & suger, and coloure hit with saforne.
Bodleian Library, MS. Rawlinson D 1222, 281.

Cut venison or mutton in small little slices and put them in a frying pan with ale and boil them until they are nearly tender. Then take them and fry them in butter until they are nearly tender; then make a sauce for them. Take red wine, enough vinegar, and butter, and put them in a pot to stew until they are half evaporated; then season them with cinnamon, ginger and sugar, and colour it with saffron.

The text of this recipe can be found in Constance Hieatt’s A Gathering of Medieval English Recipes, a wonderful collection of lesser known manuscripts and recipes of medieval English cookery. She mentions that this particular recipe is recorded in a different hand to the rest of the manuscript, and appears to be a later addition (Hieatt, 2007, 90).

Venison was the status meat of medieval Europe. It was associated with the noble pastime of hunting; to serve venison was an indication of status, as it meant a lord had been granted exclusive rights to the hunting in a particular area (Wilson, 1973, 92). It might also be given as a gift, and to avoid waste, venison was also sold in towns for the luxury market (Hammond, 1993, 39).

Venison would have been the high point of any feast; it was traditionally served with frumenty (Hieatt et al, 1996, 47), a porridge-like dish made from grains, which would have soaked up the meat juices.

Ingredients

500g venison 350mL wheat ale or beer 100g butter (for frying)

The Sauce:

250mL red wine 1/2 tsp cinnamon
60mL vinegar 1/2 tsp ginger
100g butter 40g sugar
1/4 tsp saffron

Method

  1. Soak the saffron in some boiling water until it turns a deep orange.
  2. Put the wine, vinegar, butter and saffron water into a saucepan and bring to the boil, while stirring gently. Leave the sauce to gently boil until it has reduced by half.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the venison into thin strips.
  4. Put the venison in a frypan, then add the ale or beer and bring it to the boil. Cook until the venison has changed colour, and most of the ale or beer has either evaporated off or been absorbed by the venison.
  5. Remove the venison from the pan and drain it, then put the butter for frying into the pan. When it has melted, return the venison to the pan.
  6. Stir the cinnamon, ginger and sugar into the sauce, then pour over the venison in the pan.
  7. Transfer the venison to a serving plate, and serve with frumenty (recipe here).

Notes

  • Venison is a very lean meat, and tends to be better suited to roasting or quick frying. Stewed venison is rather unusual; however, this venison is not stewed for long, and as the alcohol is slightly acidic, it breaks down the fibres in the meat and helps to keep it tender.
  • If possible, try and get whole dried ginger that you have to grate yourself, rather than the ready powdered stuff. It smells and tastes much stronger.

Venison braised in beer

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Hammond, Peter (1993). Food and Feast in Medieval England.
Hieatt, Constance (2007). A Gathering of Medieval English Recipes.
Hieatt, Constance, Hosington, Brenda and Butler, Sharon (1996). Pleyn Delit.
Wilson, C. Anne (1992). Food and Drink in Britain.

Stekys of Venson (Venison Steaks)

xxxj. To make Stekys of venson? or bef – Take Venyson or Bef, & leche & gredyl it vp broun; þen take Vynegre & a litel verious, & a lytil Wyne, & putte pouder perpir þer-on y-now, and pouder Gyngere; & atte þe dressoure straw on pouder Canelle y-now, þat þe stekys be al y-helid þer-wyth, & but a litel Sawce; & þan serue it forth. MS. Harleian 279, Leche Vyaundez, xxxi.

To make steaks of venison or beef – take venison or beef, and slice it and fry it brown; then take vinegar and a little verjuice, and a little wine, and put powdered pepper thereon enough, and powdered ginger; and at the dresser strew on powdered cinnamon enough, that the steaks be all covered therewith, and but a little sauce; and then serve it forth.

Venison was the status meat of medieval Europe. It was associated with the noble pastime of hunting; to serve venison was an indication of status, as it meant a lord had been granted exclusive rights to the hunting in a particular area (Wilson, 1973, 92). It might also be given as a gift, and to avoid waste, venison was also sold in towns for the luxury market (Hammond, 1993, 39).

Venison would have been the high point of any feast; it was traditionally served with frumenty (Hieatt et al, 1996, 47), a porridge-like dish made from grains, which would have soaked up the meat juices.

Ingredients

500g venison 40mL wine vinegar 1/4 tsp pepper
20mL verjuice 30mL wine 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon Salt to taste

Method

  1. Separately grind or grate the spices
  2. Slice the venison into fine strips.
  3. Heat some oil or fat in a pan, and quickly fry the venison strips until they are browned. Transfer to a serving plate.
  4. Mix together the vinegar, verjuice, wine, pepper and ginger. If desired, heat the sauce briefly.
  5. Sprinkle the venison with the cinnamon, then drizzle the sauce over the top.
  6. Serve with frumenty (recipe here.

Notes

  • Venison is a very lean meat, and although there are recipes for venison pottages (stews), I find venison is better suited to quick frying recipes such as this, or roasting, where the meat can be constantly basted to keep it moist.
  • The cinnamon that is sprinkled over the steaks was the recommended accompaniment for slices of venison (Brears, 2008, 454).
  • If possible, try and get whole dried ginger that you have to grate yourself, rather than the ready powdered stuff. It smells and tastes much stronger.

Stir fried venison

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Austin, Thomas (ed.). Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks
Brears, Peter (2008). Cooking and Dining in Medieval England.
Hammond, Peter (1993). Food and Feast in Medieval England.
Hieatt, Constance, Hosington, Brenda and Butler, Sharon (1996). Pleyn Delit.
Wilson, C. Anne (1992). Food and Drink in Britain.